“Well, who are you…”
Dateline: Lake Dardanelle
Tell me, who are you.
Tell me, about yourself.
Tell me, your story.
Here we go.
What if, we talked to each other more, or maybe, even more importantly, what if we LISTENED to each other more.
At my job interview at ESPN, one of the several hundred people you had to interview with asked me this, “What in your job performance do you do best?”
My answer was one word, “Listen.”
I could tell he wasn’t really listening until I said that. I told him, “People will amaze you if you just get out of the way, and listen to them.”
Somehow, he still hired me.
Knock on any front door in America, and there will be a story held within. Same in France, Spain, Brazil, Australia and any other country on this rock in space.
I have learned this, if you knock, and a human opens the door, if you listen you will be amazed at the stories you hear.
“…I really wanna know…”
“db, I had to go buy new pants so I could fish this tournament.” And with that, Kenyon Hill broke into a big smile.
I have been seeing Kenyon around the events this year, and every time I saw him it looked like he was losing weight so I asked this, “Hey, Kenyon, what’s up weight wise man?”
And then I listened.
“On January 21 of this year, I got a gastric bypass. My stomach is now smaller than your fist.”
If you know Kenyon only by the photos you have seen of him the past few years, that’s not the real Kenyon.
“I was a wrestler in high school;I wrestled as a senior at 142 pounds.”
Like many of us, Kenyon grew into himself, “Before surgery, I hit a high of 310 pounds.”
After surgery, he’s down to 230, that’s 80 pounds less of Kenyon, “I want to lose another 60 pounds, down to 170; that’s what my doctor wants me to shoot for.”
But don’t be thinking the dude took the easy way out of weight loss (as if any kind of surgery is easy): “You have to work at this; I got a whole thick owner’s manual to my body. There’s a lot more to this than I thought; it’s a complete life change.”
Kenyon had to go through 3 months of prep BEFORE surgery then, “Now I have to watch that I get vitamins and protein, especially protein, I’m not hungry much so I have to be smart in what I eat. I weigh my food at home; when I go out to dinner, my girlfriend and I split the meal between us. It is a whole new way of life.”
And then I asked a real long question: “Why.”
“db, I was about to turn 50 and carrying that much weight was not healthy and could lead to lots of health issues, and I just didn’t want to die young.”
Oh, if you are wondering why he had to buy new pants for this tournament, last year he fished in size 48 waist pants, today he launched in size…38.
“…tell me, who are you…”
“I prayed, ‘Dear Lord, please don’t let the tornado hit my house but if it does please just take me and not my wife and baby.’”
Mark Young, a 30-year-old Electrical Supply sales guy from Conway, Arkansas, came to the Elite event to watch the weigh-in, and suddenly found himself in front of my camera.
Yeah, I went out and picked just someone, a fan, who came to watch the weigh-in.
“I fish once a week if I can, now with the new baby, Parker, he’s 2 months old, there’s not much time to fish right now, but I’m trying hard to save some money and buy me a bass boat…but it’s going to have to be a really USED one for me to afford it. Right now, I have to get someone to take me fishing, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to just take myself fishing.”
Mark told me he fishes because it helps clear his head, “I was an avid golfer then a buddy of mine took me bass fishing for the first time and I came home and sold the golf clubs and bought a fishing rod and reel the next day.”
And then came his personal story: “The tornado that hit Mayflower, I was outside in my driveway and saw it coming right at us so I ran inside our house, told me wife to get into the closet, scooped up Parker our 2-month-old son, gave him to my wife, Abby, in the closet, put a blanket over the two of them then I laid on top of them and the blanket to protect them both.”
Fortunately for Mark and his family, the tornado turned; unfortunately for the people in Mayflower and Vilonia, it turned their way, and you are in our prayers.
When I finished the interview with Mark, we took a selfie photo together which he pasted on my Facebook page along with sending me a message which said, in part, “…Parker was born on Classic weekend so I'm thinking he and I will go next year for his birthday.”
And if that happens, there will be three of us in the next selfie.
“…'cause I really wanna know.”
“I was the first woman to ever win a B.A.S.S Nation tournament in New Mexico. My B.A.S.S. club voted me, Woman of the Year.”
And then there’s this other first tied to B.A.S.S. Tournament Assistant, Lisa Talmadge: “I was also the first woman to do the job of weighing in fish on the big stage. Last year when Trip got sick, I filled in for him weighing in the anglers’ bags when they came up on stage.”
Normally, Lisa is the one in the Dually pulling the big stage that she stood on, “I have a CDL license,” but that’s not all.
“I drove an 18-wheeler truck for about a year with my husband; I would drive during the day, and he would drive at night. I’ve been in every state in the continental U.S. and have driven on every Interstate in the country, drove 250,000 miles one year.”
Lisa has been setting up and tearing down B.A.S.S. events for about five years now, was the Tournament Manager for the Weekend Series for a couple of years, now you will find her stationed next to the atomic clock checking in the anglers as their flights are due in.
“I’ve been fishing since I was 3, maybe 4 years old, had my first baitcaster rod and reel when I was 12.”
Robert, her father, was the one who put the rod in her 3-year-old hands, now she fishes tournaments with her husband, Bryan: “You know, db, it’s kind of cool. Recently my dad gave me the boat that I first fished on, a 1985 Hydrosport. I learned how to fish on that boat, learned how to back it up, launch it; we are trying to get it fixed up so we can use it again.”
Lisa is normally on the road at B.A.S.S. tournaments between 22 and 25 weeks a year doing the hauling, the set up, the tear down, the check in, the studying…
“I graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a degree in Elementary Education. I used to teach 1st, 2nd and 5th grade. I’m studying now to pass the tests in Alabama so I could go back to teaching if I want.”
But, “I love what I’m doing, love everything about tournaments…” at which point she smiled at me and then suddenly turned around, looked at a boat roaring up, and gave the thumbs up to KVD, as he checked in, on time.
We are all the same species, you and me, and yet, somehow, we have become strangers.
We know the stories of only the most gaudy amongst us, but rarely the tales of those who live next door.
To the stories.
Not to the Mass Communication that bombards us, but to the single stories waiting to be told.
All of human history is nothing more, than stories of us.
And the more of those stories that we know,
we will become.
“Who Are You”